New Delhi: Concerned over embezzlement of funds meant for MNREGA, the Centre is planning to set up special courts across the country to expedite cases related to irregularities in the rural employment scheme.

Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on Tuesday said the Centre would consult with the Supreme Court about setting up special MNREGA courts to punish those found guilty of misusing funds meant for the rural poor.

The move comes in the backdrop of reports that the UPA Government's ambitious rural job guarantee scheme is marred by corruption. Recently, Ramesh had written a hard-hitting letter to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati asking her to recommend a CBI probe against state officials for their alleged role into embezzlement of MNREGA funds.

The concept of MNREGA courts has already been put into use by Andhra Pradesh where they would function from January next year, the Minister said.

"Andhra Pradesh has passed an ordinance in August this year for setting up special courts in order to ensure that officials against whom action is taking as a result of social audit do not use the judiciary to delay the process," he said.

"I think it is a good initiative and it is worthwhile adopting this system in other states. We will consult the Supreme Court in the matter as well," Ramesh told reporters on the sidelines of a workshop on social audit in MGNREGA with state governments here.

According to the Andhra Pradesh Social Audit (Punishment of Corrupt Practices) Ordinance 2011, the corrupt persons and those indulging in irregularities would be noticed during the social audit of NREGS and the proposed law provides for arresting the accused.

The ordinance proposes to set up mobile courts to try the cases of corruption and punish the guilty at the earliest.